Steve's life-long interest in physical fitness led him to develop the principles of Power Walking. He now uses that method of exercise to maintain his physique and well-being.
In 1982, Steve authored a best-selling book entitled "Power Walking" that many, many critics admired. The book has long been out of print but due to demand, we're pleased to announce that a new edition - with updated information and insights from Steve - is due for release in the Spring of 2005!
The following is an excerpt from the Society's April 1995 newsletter where Steve talks with well-known fitness writer John Little about the origins and concept behind Power Walking.
JOHN: Just how did you create Power Walking?
STEVE: Well, I wanted to do something that in no way would be jarring or damaging to the knees, because I was getting bad knees from running. So I thought, "Well, I think I'll use the progressive resistance principle instead of just using my bodyweight over a certain (mile or so) distance. I'll add a little weight to it and move it (my body and weight) over the same distance and get the same results."
I developed it almost accidentally as an aerobic exercise. I was training my Morgan horses to walk out real fast and had a couple of them trained very well. That's when some friends of mine said, "You know the country, why don't you lead us on a trail ride from Anza to Borrego Springs (which is about 30 miles through the mountains and desert)?" So I thought "OK.. I was in good shape and my horse was in good shape, but these other riders were not in very good shape: they only came out on weekends to ride, and their horses were not in that great of shape." Now, to make it easier for them, I conducted the ride cavalry-style, where you ride for 50 minutes and get off and walk beside your horse for 10 minutes.
When I got off my horse to walk, he (the horse) started walking out real fast; I had to lengthen my stride to keep up and was doing pretty well. But, I felt a little off-balance. I started swinging my free arm (the best I could). I was doing OK except then I was getting breathless. So I thought, "Well, I'll do rhythmic breathing." I would breath in for three steps, out for three steps, in three, out for three - it felt great! After the 10 minutes, I stopped and looked around; the rest of the riders were about a mile behind me. I thought, "Hey, this is a great aerobic exercise!" I mean I felt good, my heart was beating a little faster but not too fast ... you know; it was accelerated but not to dangerously high proportions.
My next phase was walking up hills, and then mountains, until I got in such shape that the mountains felt like hills and the hills felt like I was on the level. So then I thought, "Well, I've got to add weight to my body," and so I started adding ankle weights and waist weights and hand weights. I worked up from 1 pound in each hand to ten pounds in each hand - but ten was too heavy, it interfered with my stride. So I broke it down to 5 pounds and I've found that's the best. A person shouldn't walk with more than 20% of their bodyweight; 10% around the waist, and the rest pided between the wrist and the ankle weights.
JOHN: Would you be the "pioneer" in that particular field? Because I've seen other people come out with weights (i.e., "Heavy Hands") and courses trying to copy what you've originated.
STEVE: Yes, I am the sole pioneer in that field. They've copied my concept. I definitely came out with it before they did and I can prove it.
JOHN: Good, because I think it should be made clear on principle that you invented POWER WALKING, and that they merely copied it.
The newly revised edition of "Power Walking" is available for sale in our online store in both paperback and a limited edition hardcover.
You can also find information on Power Walking can be found in Steve's book "Building the Classic Physique - the Natural Way".
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